Dizzy

Dizzy Gillespie Feels Fine

In Short Story by Ernest Slyman

You do that quite well. Can you do it again. The repeat has a gold medal for showing up and making a fool out of itself. The comfortable repeat lives in a big house up on a hill. At night, his living room comes out and does a little dance. You can hear Dizzy Gillespie blowing a horn made out of brass that knows every note on the scale needs to be primped. A little lipstick here, eye liner, brush those cheeks like you wanted them to bear the beauty of jazz.

Can’t tell jazz it’s not good enough to get out of solitary confinement. It didn’t do anything against the law. All Dizzy Gillespie did was play a trumpet like he was giving away all the gifts in the world. One to everyone who has an ear. One of those fellows who finds in jazz a pleasure. A bliss that lifts you up by the top of your head.

What ears find in jazz only they know. They sometimes attribute their own happiness with the merriment of the trumpet playing hopscotch, jacks, grabbing hold of fallen pennies. The beautiful long legs of a jazz melody strolling through the air. You know it’s going to give you the kiss of your life. Those red lips that jazz places against your ear. Slips inside like a salamander, knocks on the door of the brain, sneaks a peak through a window. What’s inside the brain that jazz wants to visit? Find a partner to dance with, throw your hands in the air. Here come those dancing melodies that work miracles. They can give you a chance. Let you slide. Don’t jam your fingers in the door when it slams. Jazz songs end all too quickly. The world is a mess. Jazz music is up to the task. Puts its shoulder to the wheel. Speaks in the tongue that flowers use when they’re whispering to humming birds. “Haven’t seen you in a while. Where you been?”

Having those intellectual conversations that tulips have with butterflies. “What’s with the cape, darling? It’s the middle of summer.”

There’s nothing that jazz needs. Perhaps a new handbag, pumps, new blue dress, jewelry that could make you think you were rich, happy, delirious when you hear the clink of the bracelet. It speaks of jewelry everywhere. How kind they are. They sparkle like stars in the sky. They twinkle. Each glimmer that snaps its fingers gets our attention.

We fall in love with jazz every time we hear it. The sounds that occur in jazz are straight from New Orleans. The place that jazz discovered. Mardi Gras. Those festivals that get inside you and never leave. They’re going to get up early. They expect breakfast by seven. A back rub would make jazz feel like it was in heaven. Loves the way ears rub against the music.

The melody has four legs and walks like a cat. The place where jazz does some of its best work is in our feet. We can’t stop tapping our toes. Jazz wants us to keep up with it, as it romps into the starry sky. Circles the moon, can’t stop humming like a June bug, while jazz rides its broom over the horizon. We’re all bewitched by jazz. It can make you think you’re satisfied. Suggest strongly who you are and what you’ve accomplished is amazing. How did you do it? You clever fellow. One can’t help but admire your excellence.

Jazz changes everything. Where would jazz be without its amazing flying squirrels? They live in the trumpet and come shooting out at the audience. Address the internal moods, the mental outlooks, diminished or intensely inflamed desires to diet, exercise, meditate at least once a day.

The flying squirrels embrace every cell in our body. We tremble when jazz stops by. It’s a guest we welcome. If it wants breakfast in bed — no problem. The spirit of jazz full of bliss and sorrow. It’s melancholy that squeezes the buttons on the trumpet. The finger hook there for giving Dizzy whatever his heart desired. The lips placed into position. Dizzy Gillespie had a soul as big as the moon. That’s where all the wind came from. Just sitting there with its arms folded. Its eyes full of the utmost respect for the human race.

What does jazz do when we turn our backs? It speaks our name. It calls us out. We don’t answer jazz. Why should we? Some of us don’t enjoy jazz. We find it appalling. Revolting. Wearing that silly paper hat. Beads hung around your neck. Are they glass. Because they seem to light up when you dance.

Jazz is a fine dancer. Always eager to show off. Got a mustache that will twirl up in the air. Sing you to sleep. It’s always strutting along in New Orleans parade. The streets are all happy jazz has decided to play. The melodies want only to savage the sorrows of the world. Knock them out. Take their money. Give it to the poor. Why not? Jazz may be filthy rich. But it remembers when it was hungry, living a fallen down neighborhood. Every room in the house with chipped paint, squeak floors. They could say the most awful things to you as you walked by. “Watch your step, clumsy oaf! You should be in poorhouse. The breadlines are full of moochers like you.”

The trumpet opens its mouth and explains the mysteries of the universe. Every why and what for. The smallest thing to the most profound. That’s what jazz gives us when we listen. The little horses that dance in the air. How they trot and prance. No sound resembles jazz. It’s opera for the little horses that run inside us. Across the green fields sunlit by a blue sky in our heads. We’ll see a blue sky in our heads until the day we die.

The trumpets kick up their heels. What is that trombones always say — “Don’t believe everything you hear.” Those trombones are certainly smart. You’ve got to hand it to them.

It’s the xylophones that will stab you in the back. They never liked the way we turned our backs to jazz. As though so doing we’d felt some deep resentment toward it. As though jazz had done something against us. Said something it didn’t mean. Not all of us can forgive and forget. Jazz knows us better than we know ourselves.

How do you like your jazz? Rare, medium or well done? Horseradish on the side? Maybe a baked potato holding onto a puddle of sour cream?

About the Author

Ernest Slyman

Website

Ernest Slyman lives in New York City. He is a playwright, poet, fiction writer and humorist. He was born in Appalachia - Elizabethton, Tennessee. His work has appeared in Meniscus, The Laurel Review, The Lyric, Light: A Quarterly of Light Verse (Chicago), The NY Times, Reader's Digest and The Bedford Introduction to Literature, St Martins Press, edited by Michael Meyer, and Poetry: An Introduction, St Martins Press, edited by Michael Meyer. His website is www.ernestslyman.com.